Cubs' top prospect gets three hits, including 402-foot homer Saturday
By Pete Wickham
Special to MLB.com |
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Kris Bryant, who struggled his first two games with Triple-A Iowa, busted loose Saturday night with three hits, including a 402-foot ninth-inning home run that capped a 13-0 rout of the Memphis Redbirds at AutoZone Park.
Bryant turned on a 1-0 changeup from Boone Whiting and sent it deep onto the left-field bluff.
"The first two nights, I didn't get much to hit and I was kind of going out of my comfort zone," Bryant said. "Tonight I told myself to be a little more patient, wait 'em out and I got some more pitches to hit. It was a good night."
The inning before Bryant's homer, Whiting showed no willingness to take on MLB.com's No. 2 prospect, walking him on four pitches. It resulted in several boos from the crowd of 6,174.
"You could see him starting to tick, and you can tell, once he gets going, he doesn't stop," said Iowa outfielder Adron Chambers. "It's a beautiful thing to watch."
Bryant went 1-for-8 to open the season in a pair of losses to Memphis, with an RBI, a run scored and three strikeouts.
But after a sacrifice fly in the first inning Saturday, he singled and scored in the third inning, then smoked a double under the glove of Redbirds second baseman Matt Williams, who was parked behind the second-base bag for the shift. He also popped out to left field in the sixth, and finished the night 3-for-4.
Bryant had slugged nine home runs in Cactus League games with the Cubs this spring, but Saturday's shot was his first homer for Iowa since an Aug. 24 game at Tacoma.
"Before the game, I told him, 'You've got to take your walks,'" Iowa manager Marty Pevey said. "That doesn't mean try to walk, that means if they throw you a bunch of stuff out of the zone, be patient.
"I liked the hustle double under the shift as much as the homer," Pevey said. "He's here to play baseball and comes prepared every night and does his work. I never have to worry about him doing his work."
Iowa concludes its season-opening series in Memphis on Sunday before heading to New Orleans on Monday to begin a four-game set. Whether he makes it back to Iowa for the home opener Friday against Oklahoma City is the question.
"[I'm] not worried about that," Bryant said. "I'm staying in the moment, and for now this is where I am."
Pete Wickham is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.